Responsible capitalism: is ​​it possible?

« An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down ».


Reid Hoffman, fondateur de LinkedIn

Record fundraisers, shattering IPOs... economist Milton Friedman explained in the New York Times in 1970 that corporate social responsibility is to make a profit. However, this yesterday's representation of success is no longer compatible with tomorrow. What if we started by changing our own representations? How to reconsider this acquired standard which advocates doubling the competition? Is it still really serious to consider that growing businesses and improving profits are enough to define the success ?

Alliance between growth and nature: moving towards deconditioning?

In France, 77% of brands could disappear in general indifference. This figure reaches 87% worldwide. This is the edifying result of a 2019 Havas Meaningful brands study.

While the company holds a large share of the responsibility for the growing inequalities and the climate change we are experiencing, it is also best placed to slow them down. “In the face of a situation where difficulties mount, we must rise up with her. When everything is new, then we must renew our thinking and our actions, ”said President Lincoln.

No production today can claim to have a totally ecological impact. While 84% of French people want to see the company play a role for the common good (Espy / Tilt BrandGagement 2020 study), it seems to have become the new political actor in our societies: “The impact and the leverage are today much more in the socio-economic sphere than in the political sphere ”, explains Alain Renaudin, figure of biomimicry and founder of Biomim’expo. If the political actor has the power to legislate in order to propose a social project, it is the economic actor, who is essential, that has the main role. To understand the contours of the company according to, the emlyon business school offers, with its educational initiative Disrupted Futures, a reflection questionnaire (freely inspired by that of the philosopher Bruno Latour), intended for business leaders , entrepreneurs (etc.). Indeed, over the past 5 decades, the economic actor has mainly benefited from non-virtuous action for its economic development. This is no longer tenable and he now understands that he can profit much more significantly through virtuous action: it is no longer sustainable to waste the resources he uses. It will also strengthen its brand image with its customers and benefit from a greater ability to attract people on a project. After the era of production (1870-1930), the era of sales (1930s-1950s) and the era of marketing, is the advent of a new era of reasoned consumption on its way?

Impact differently

Between 2000 and 2014, global clothing production increased by a factor of 2. The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world, totaling 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases annually. That’s more than all of the world’s air and sea transport combined (2017 A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future report, conducted by the Ellen McArthur Foundation). In spite of everything, commitments are on the way, like 32 textile companies (Adidas, Nike, Chanel, Prada, Gap, H&M, Zara, etc.) which signed a “Fashion pact” in 2019 aimed at moving to 100% ” renewable energies throughout the supply chain by 2030 and achieve zero net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050, or like Zara which will manufacture all its collections from fabrics by 2025 100% sustainable. Some manufacturers also choose to impact where they are not necessarily expected: this is the case of Patagonia, which lays the foundations for responsible capitalism with an advertisement broadcast during Black Friday 2011 “Don’t buy this jacket” , thus encouraging repair rather than buying. Still others make the choice to be completely out of step, while 45% of French people say they are ready to pay for the same product / service if it comes from a company with a positive impact (Espy / Tilt BrandGagement 2020 study) .

Sell less by offering clothes that last longer, this is the credo of Julia Faure, creator of Loom, an ethical clothing brand. For her, there is no doubt “We need an ecosystem of useful small and medium-sized businesses. Getting bigger doesn’t make you more efficient, more efficient, or happier. ” Enercoop, French supplier of renewable energy, 900.care, manufacturer of products that can be recharged for life to take care of yourself on a daily basis, 1083, manufacturer of 100% organic or recycled jeans, all of whose manufacturing steps are carried out in France, and so many others, have understood this well. In order to perpetuate the activities of companies, Alain Renaudin explains “I advocate, even if it means being a little provocative, and in addition to philanthropy or patronage,“ sustainable development of interest ”, as a profitable asset of a new paradigm economic. It is much more powerful today to be part of a virtuous action, in positive resonance “.

Encouraging the positive: an imperative

Following the March 2019 climate marches, researchers write, in a letter published on the associative platform Monday: “In the current state of our knowledge, there is no technological solution that allows the whole planet to have our current level of comfort without jeopardizing the climate and living conditions. People who tell you otherwise are mistaken out of ignorance, have miscalculated, or lie out of self-interest. ”

Jean-François Galloüin, renowned entrepreneur, professor at CentraleSupélec and member of the Advisory Board of FinX, explains: “Everything is a question of will, of choice, of responsibility. Keep in mind that not everyone can participate in the circular economy, but small steps are necessary. And anyway, business models and cursors are constantly evolving and will evolve ”. Despite their deadlines, which may seem remote, the initiatives of (very) large groups (sustainable development reports, audits, etc.) are there, will – inevitably – have a significant impact and will become more and more numerous (snowball effect). ). It is certainly very difficult to have 100% positive action. You have to accept to have an action that is not yet ideal, but that is going in the right direction. These initiatives deserve to be encouraged.

And, as we post out of lockdown, it’s a safe bet that these companies are accelerating this process on their own. There are no small steps, just like there are no small gestures when there are 67 million of us in France doing it. We are able to adapt in record time, the confinement episode has proven. The discourse we are having today would not have been the same a few years ago, not the same a few weeks ago, and it certainly will not be the same in some time.

We will meet you in 3 years to talk about it again!

Alexandra Corsi Chopin

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